Cover Reveal – Charming the Professor!

Hi All!

If you’ve been following my blogs, you know I’ve been planning on releasing a really cool time-travel in the near future.  The book is done and ready to publish but I didn’t Bound By Moonlight - cover - finalhave a cover.  This is my fault, not the cover designer.  I didn’t allow sufficient time for the design process.  My agent had arranged for the cover for Bound By Moonlight, not me.  So I figured designing a cover must be a snap.  Not so.

Well, I have my cover.  YAY!  Designed by the talented Lyndsey Lewellen, daughter of the equally talented Suzanne Ferrell.  But before I show you the final product, I thought I’d take you through the cover concepts that went before.

I sent Lyndsey the blurb of my story, Charming the Professor, which is this:

The Charm Gates have stood at The Court of Two Sisters for more than a century with no one guessing the secret they hold. Thanks to a jealous vindictive queen and a blackmailed alchemist, French “charm teacher” Madeline Charlebois’s essence is encased inside, until a grieving professor touches the gates during a storm and Madeline tumbles out, not in her own 19th century Spain, but in 21st century New Orleans.

Quantum physics Professor Grant Stewart has mourned his wife’s death for the last three years. But he must move on for his young daughter’s sake, the child who delights in terrorizing babysitters. Grant needs adequate childcare to pursue tenure at Tulane. What he doesn’t need is a French beauty believing nonsense like time-travel and voodoo, and whose very being is melting his heart.

Maddie may be without resources but she’s good at making new friends, even if they are on the quirky side. She believes Professor Stewart can return her home, but first she must earn his trust to win his cooperation. Babysitting his daughter gives her both proximity, and love for the child. Will Grant be the key to returning to her time? Or will she, in turn, unlock his frozen heart? All they need is time and maybe a little voodoo…

My concept was that a historically attired lady from 1853 would stand back-to-back with a modern professor with a little girl at their feet between them.charming cartoon cover

Lyndsey sent me two concepts.  The first is the “cartoon” cover on the right – that I love!  But everyone I showed it to said it didn’t suggest a romance.  They thought the story was a children’s story about the little girl charming the professor.  Rats!  That’s not at all what the story is about.

Charmed photo coverThe other concept, the one on the left, looks more like a romance.  But I had a problem with the girl’s outfit.  To me, she looked like she was wearing a Halloween costume, the adult version of a historical dress.  The guy looked a bit dorky.  His suit may have been appropriate in Victorian times – but not for today.  He had to change.

I thought the background was too busy and suggested maybe a brick wall might be better.  Meanwhile, Lyndsy found a new pair of models, plus she found a set of gates that looked a  lot like the real Charm Gates.  She sent this:Kissing number two

I love the new hero – now we’re talking!  But the heroine just wasn’t working for me.  Plus, I don’t think this conveys New Orleans the way I’d hoped.  I wasn’t crazy about the dress (which is actually a blouse and skirt).  Lyndsey changed up the colors and added some mardi gras masks which didn’t work at all.  That it’s on the left.  Please Charming the Professor concept 1C[1]note that all of these images have the watermarks of unpurchased images.  Those don’t disappear until the images are purchased and a cover finalized.

About now I’m getting frustrated.  Lyndsey is probably frustrated with me as well.  She found a different image with the same male model, but has a heroine that looks more Victorian, but I don’t know – doesn’t she look like she’s from a model of American Western Victorian attire?  Nothing about the image says New Orleans to me.  Lyndsey tried a different background, Charming the Professor concept 3[1]but still I get more of a feeling of San Antonio than New Orleans.  She changed the background and added some verbage to indicate this was a time-travel, because you really can’t tell by Charming the Professor concept 3b[3]the cover.  That’s the improved cover on the left.

Better, but it’s still not what I wanted.  I’m thinking I might have to use that cute cartoon cover.  We decided to go back to the original concept, however, before Lyndsey worked on fixing that first cover, she found something new.  And in my eyes, she found something wonderful.

This is my new cover for CHARMING THE PROFESSOR.  Tell me what do you think?

Charming the Professor final

Now for a prize, I’ll send someone, or a couple someones,  leaving a comment a free copy of the prequel to Charming the Professor.  It’s a short story that hasn’t a cover (but hopefully will shortly) called The Moor’s Tear.  While it’s not necessary to read The Moor’s Tear first, it does make Charming the Professor that much richer.  If you’re more in mind of winning a book, I have a huge overflowing TBR pile that I plan to give away a book a month to one of the subscribers to my newsletter list.  If you haven’t already subscribed, click here:\    or go to my website, and sign up.  Now let’s talk!





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  • flchen1 says:

    Wow, Donna, I have to say that I totally love the cover for Charming the Professor!! It sounds like it was quite the experience, first getting a basic concept and then refining that concept to really express what you intend for the characters and story! I do love what you and Lyndsey finally agreed on!! Good work!

    • Thanks Fichen!

      I love it as well. Lyndsey did a fantastic job. What amazed me is that after so many clinch covers, she suddenly sent that one which has the historical dress, the bow tie and suspenders of a professor and the totally believeable suggestion of sensual conflict – all in a picture. Love it. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Ki says:

    What a process! I definitely think the cartoon cover is cute, but does have the problem of what genre and age group it’s targeting. But I have to say, I definitely love that last cover before the finalized cover reveal. Not that I don’t love the new cover, it looks great and kind of steampunk-isk, (Victorian and alchemy of course) I just kind of wish it still has the gates at the bottom. But I’m glad you finally got a cover! Can’t wait to read this when it releases.

    • Thank Ki –

      I liked the gates as well, but they would have pushed the “Charm Gates Time Travel Romance” into two or three lines, instead of just one – and that would have forced all the cover text to rise up a line or two and changed the placement. Under those circumstances, we figured it was best to leave them off. But I love that you love the cover :-). I can’t wait for you to read it as well.

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    I love the cover! It was really neat seeing the different ones you sent through to reach the final product. Thanks for sharing that. The final looks fantastic, and I can’t wait to read it. 🙂

    • Hi Heathercm –

      It was really an interesting process. I had absolutely no say in the covers that I received from Berkley. Those were are planned, executed via posting the models, and finalized by a committee. I think Lyndsey did as well, or better, than their committee. I love it! Can’t wait for you to read it as well! 🙂

  • Sally Schmidt says:

    I love all of the covers, but your reasons why each was not right for your story were spot on! And the last cover is perfect. The contrast of the dress with the bow tie and suspenders sets the tone right away. And I can’t wait for the story.

    • Thanks Sally –

      This was the first novel cover over which I really felt I had a bit of control. Lyndsey, of course, did all the work. She is brilliant. But I’m glad we went through so many versions to find the perfect one. Perseverence indeed pays off 🙂

  • trina says:

    I totally love the final cover. Your covers are always so great! I enjoyed seeing each cover you had to chose from to finally get the best one. And you never gave up and she didnt either to get the cover you wanted! I cannot wait to read your new book. The cover fits the concept of the book perfect.

    • Thanks Trina –

      I agree! It totally fits the concept. And I love that she used the Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold and green is the basic color scheme. I’m not sure if the difference (modern versus historical) is truly captured, but it’s evident there more so than in the previous attempts.

      LOL – I hadn’t realized how men’s clothing hadn’t really changed over one hundred years. Nothing like the changes in women’s clothes 🙂

  • Donna, I love the bow tie. You had quite a journey but I think you have the right one. Can’t wait to read it.

    • Thanks Caroline!

      I’m not normally a bow-tie type girl, but the bow-tie definitely says “professor” to me. LOL. Guess I like the non-intellectual type guys. 🙂 But I do love this cover.

  • Donna,

    Love the final cover! It’s got the feel of two different time periods colliding. 🙂 And the lamp light in the background feels like New Orleans to me. Good job on both your parts.

    • Hi Suz –

      I think, if you know the story and with the clue of “time-travel” at the bottom, you recognize the two time periods. If you were to pick the book off a shelf (because it IS intriguing 🙂 ) you might not immediately see the difference. Yes, love the lamplight in the background, and the fact that she used traditional Mardi Gras colors – purple, gold, and green – all give it that New Orleans vibe. It’s definitely a keeper. Lyndsey is a wonder.

  • I, too, love the man with the bow tie and suspenders. I love the purple dress, too. You definitely chose the best cover.

    • Thanks Ursula!

      This is a New Orleans week, isn’t it? You’ll be talking tomorrow about New Orleans in Victorian times and this book is New Orleans today.

      Now I love this story and the characters and everything, but it constantly amazes me that the entire thing was inspired by the real Charm Gates. Amazing how one small thing can lead to a novel.

  • The final cover is PERFECT! Thanks for sharing, Donna. Can’t wait to read it!

    • Hi Miranda

      Thanks for the cover love. I’m anxious for you to read it as well. Love the way the cover turned out. It was amazing how both Lyndsey and I knew this was the one. 🙂

  • Rae Latte says:


    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this cover. First – the purple dress – fabulous, second – the gold bowtie and that background is sooo New Orleans.

    I can’t wait to read this 😉

    Thanks for sharing about the process.


  • Janie Mason says:

    Lyndsey come up with lots of beautiful cover options. I LOVE your final choice. I’m sure it will catch the eyes of lots of romance readers!

  • Helen says:

    Woohoo Donna

    I love that cover and I am very much looking forward to reading this one I do love your stories 🙂 YAY

    Have Fun

  • Jean LaGue says:

    Hi Donna,
    I love the cover, especially woman in the purple dress. Not being able to see their faces adds mystery, although I think the male looks a little (well I was going to say stiff,,,) posed… lol
    Miss you!

    • Jean!

      So good to hear from you! I miss you as well, and always think of you when in Ellen’s aerobics class. 🙂 LOL on the stiff, but I suppose he is posed. Either way, I love this cover compared to the others. Yes, love the lady in the purple dress. She really makes the whole thing work. Hope you give the story a try when it comes out! 🙂

  • catslady says:

    The final cover is my favorite. The one in blue was pretty too but there was something about her lowered arm that looked stiff to me. I like the suspenders and bow tie too because it so fits the title! Congrats.

    • Hi Catslady –

      You’re right. That’s what felt odd about the blue dress lady – it was the stiff arm. I think the watermarks might have softened it up a bit, but had we gone with that image, once the watermarks were removed, I would have been disappointed. Still, not only do I like the female model, I like her purple dress. I hadn’t thought about it till just now but the heroine wears a purple gown to a University dance in the book. Wow! Imagine that!

  • Kim says:

    Your cover journey was interesting. As the author, you know what you want. Has a cover artist ever tried to sway you away from your gut instinct?

    • Hi Kim!

      This really was the first time I’ve really worked with a cover artist, per se. Berkley never asked my opinion, they just gave me the book. My agent arranged for the cover of Bound By Moonlight, which is lovely, but I wasn’t the one working with the artist. So this was my first experience. No. I don’t think Lyndsey tried to sway me against my gut instinct, but I was beginning to think the right man/woman stock photo just didn’t exist. And then it did 🙂

  • Caren Crane says:

    Donna, I love the final! Of course, I loved several of the interim ones, too. I think the final has the right mixture of “now” and “then”, though. What a tough concept to convey in a single image! I do love it, though. I’m excited for this release!

    • Caren –

      Definitely difficult. At one point I was even considering having a personal cover model shoot (yes, there are companies that do that) but they didn’t return my emails. So I suggested we start again with the first kissing couple cover and try to rework the guy – but then Lyndsey found this couple. I love it. Thanks for the excitement. I’m currently trying to decide the best time to release it. Any ideas?

  • Donna, I love the final cover. There are great things about each version, but this one nails it. Fabulous!

    • Thanks Nancy –

      You especially know all the time and back and forth this cover required, but you’re right. That final version nailed it.

      Just learned that this book will be eligible for a big local booksigning that used to be restricted to traditionally published books. I can wait to put this book up at the table 🙂

  • Deb Meredith says:

    Hi Donna. Thanks for sharing the cover process with us. Love the final draft and can’t wait to read it!